Tan Dun’s Water Passion

I went to see a performance on Saturday night of Tan Dun’s “Water Passion” at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.  I really didn’t know a lot about the piece, but I loved the music that Tan Dun had composed for the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon“.

It’s a little hard to describe the piece, so I’m referring to an NPR story that describes it in more detail.

From NPR.com: View from the Choir: Tan Dun’s ‘Water Passion’

Performing for the noted composer presented plenty of new challenges for the singers, Lunden says. There were lip trills and overtone singing, and even more unusual sounds: growling and shouting, for example. And, Lunden recalls, “There were also passages of great beauty.”

I was not prepared for the growling and the strange noises coming from the stage.  I found it distracting.  And I didn’t find the music to be very engaging.

So the stage is awash in water, with 17 clear plexiglass bowls laid out in the form of a cross. Three percussionists “play” the water with a variety of homemade instruments.

Among them is David Cossin, who has performed the Water Passion since Stuttgart. “The main instrument is the water and there’s everything from just dripping sounds, to playing the actual water with your hands in different ways,” he says.

The use of water as an instrument was the one thing that I found interesting. But, I guess that means that I would have probably been better off watching Stomp or Blue Man Group.

I’m sure the performance was performed well, but overall it was just not my cup of tea.  There was good crowd in the hall.  I wonder what others thought of it.

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